Sustainability professionals among happiest in UK

Sustainability professionals enjoy higher job satisfaction, wages and employment than the average worker in the UK, according to new research published today by IEMA.


The global sustainability body’s annual State of the Profession survey of 1,053 members reveals almost seven in ten are either “satisfied” or “highly satisfied” with their jobs, compared to a national average of 64%.

It also shows how just 1% of sustainability professionals are unemployed and that median salaries increased by 2.6% to £40,000 last year, significantly higher than the typical UK pay of £28,758, while 17% gained a promotion.

IEMA CEO, Tim Balcon, said: “It’s fantastic that yet again, we are able to report that this is profession that exceeds the national averages for job satisfaction, employability and pay.

“Anyone looking for a job that rewards the ability to make positive change should look no further. People in this profession are happy, doing rewarding and varied work, can rely on the right kind of career mobility and have healthy salaries.”

IEMA said the high rate of employment could be attributed to the number of qualified workers in the industry, with 60% of sustainability professionals having gained a post-graduate qualification, and 5% completing a doctorate.

It was found that mining and quarrying environmentalists are the highest earning in the sustainability profession, taking home a median salary of £57,000 – almost double the UK average.

This is also 28% more than what professionals in construction or civil engineering make, and 62% higher than for waste management workers, with only employees in the financial and legal services coming close to matching their earnings.

There was also positive news about closing the gender pay gap which narrowed by 2.6% over 2017, however, at 14.1%, the gap is higher than the national average, with women still under-represented in senior roles.

In regards to what the survey respondents want to see this year, 64% stressed a need for far stronger political leadership on tackling the “perfect storm” of climate, energy, resource, pollution and long-term sustainability facing the UK.

Some 35% want to see increased cross-profession, sector and industry collaboration on environmental issues, while a third want more global action on delivering the Paris Agreement and UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Despite the scale of national and global uncertainty, it was found that sustainability professionals are unfazed by the challenge, with 56% saying they are personally optimistic about tackling the issues ahead, up 13% from last year.

“This profession has a huge responsibility on its shoulders, yet I am not surprised that so many practitioners are undeterred,” Balcon continued.

“This is a group of people who dedicate their entire careers to tackling challenges and delivering against global goals for a sustainable future.”

IEMA’s top 10 tips on entering the sustainability profession are shown below:

1) Do voluntary experience or an internship within the industry    
2) Get an environment and/or sustainability related degree that is approved by IEMA so you can get GradIEMA status ready for when you start looking for work    
3) Seek mentoring from someone already doing the job you want    
4) Look at your existing transferable skills and assess what kind of role would best suit you
5) Start looking for a job before you finish study
6) Go to networking events to meet people already doing the job you want    
7) Get the right qualifications like the IEMA Foundation Certificate    
8) Use IEMA’s Skills Map to find out what you need to know and learn    
9) Do online research to find case studies of people who have entered the profession
10) Join a Professional Body like IEMA which will guide, support and celebrate your work and development throughout your career.

Download the full IEMA survey here


Image credit: iStock


Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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